The Island of Rab – 16th May 2009 - 120 years of tourism
It is hardly surprising that the island of Rab was one of the first tourist oases on the southern Adriatic. Thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate and vegetation, its sunny coast with its many bays, its azure sea and its natural beauty spots, as well as the ancient culture and variety of civilisations from antiquity until the present day, Rab has always had much to offer tourists.
For all the aforementioned reasons, in 1889 the local council declared Rab a tourist destination and thermal spa. This declaration was made on the basis of the favourable climate and its positive effect on heart conditions and on the respiratory organs. Not long after the birth of tourism on Rab, construction began on the first hotels.
The beautiful beaches of Rab were a favourite of tourists even 120 years ago, while the varied landscape of the island of Rab is impressive and makes it unique among the Adriatic islands. Contrasts are apparent all over the island, whether when walking, taking a boat ride along the shore, diving in the surrounding bays or seeing it from a bird's-eye view during a flight over the island.
Almost 120 years ago the traditionally hospitable folk of the island of Rab decided that tourism would be the way to secure their future and that of the coming generations. Since then, Rab has won numerous awards as the best tourist destination in the Adriatic. Tourism became a part of every home.
We hope that in browsing through this Internet presentation you will also want to visit Rab, this island which, surrounded by an emerald sea, lies almost at the heart of Europe.
The happy town of Rab – Felix Arba
The silhouette of four bell towers, on the high rocky outcropping of the peninsula, is a familiar image of Rab - an image that has been linked to it for centuries. Apart from minor changes, the silhouette has now stood fast for two millennia on the outcropping between the Bay of St Euphemia (Zaljev Sv. Eufemije) and a small bay which does not have a name since it has become the town harbour.
The town was originally raised by the Illyrian Liburni tribe, initially as a hill-fort surrounded by a dry stone wall, The settlement, which was completely surrounded by thick black holm oak and maritime pine woods, was named Arbe ('dark' in the Illyrian language).
From that day to this, the town of Rab has stood both as a jewel in the crown of the island, but also as a centre from which culture, art and education have spread. The numerous churches, not only in the town itself but all over the island, testify not only to the religious tradition, but also to the cultural, artistic and architectural achievement of a civilisation. The monasteries, churches, palaces, secular buildings, squares, loggias - secular meeting points - courthouses and marketplaces of Rab bear witness to a highly developed social environment. It should not surprise us then that Rab brought forth Marc Antun de Dominis, one of the greatest minds of 16th-century Europe - a theologian, physicist, preacher and church reformer.
When the Romans came to Rab in the second century before Christ, they encountered a well-developed town. The greatest Roman emperor, Augustus Octavian, had walls and towers built around the town to make it easier to defend. Even today, the remains of Rab's walls and fortifications stand on their foundations. The Romans named the town "happy" - Felix Arba. This title was used to signify the prosperity, merits and significance of the municipium to Rome.
From the distant Roman rulers, through the rule of Byzantium, Venice and the Hungarian and Croatian kings, Rab frequently changed its rulers, but the town never suffered any major destruction. Perhaps the Roman epithet Felix Arba had something to do with that too.